Paul Cleeland was convicted of the murder of gangster Terry Clarke, but has consistently claimed his innocence. In 1993 it was reported in the media that another prisoner had confessed to the killing. Below are a selection of articles concerning Mr’ Cleeland’s case.
Murder conviction appeal rejected
13 February 2002
A man who served 25 years of a life sentence for a murder he says he did not commit has had his appeal against his conviction rejected. Paul Cleeland, jailed for life in 1973, had claimed new evidence proved his conviction for killing gangland leader Terry Clarke a year earlier was unsafe. But on Wednesday Lord Justice Potter, sitting with Mr Justice Wright and Mr Justice Penry-Davey, decided his grounds of appeal had no substance. Cleeland, who reacted angrily as the judges announced their decision at the Court of Appeal, has 14 days to decide whether to take his case to the House of Lords for a final ruling. The 58-year-old was released in September 1998 after serving five years over his 20-year minimum tariff. His battle to clear his name has become one of the longest alleged “miscarriage of justice” cases in English legal history.
Cleeland has consistently argued that he was the victim of a cover-up and that the trial jury was not allowed to see evidence proving that the shotgun said to have been the murder weapon was faulty and could not be fired. Mr Clarke was shot twice as he got out of his car after returning from a Hertfordshire bar on Guy Fawkes night in 1972. Within three hours, detectives called on Cleeland, who was then a 30-year-old painter with a number of criminal convictions and a friend of Clarke, at his Stevenage home. He was charged with murder but the jury at his first trial in April 1973 could not reach a verdict. A retrial followed later that year before Mr Justice Geoffrey Lane, the future Lord Chief Justice, and he was convicted and sentenced to life. Cleeland’s first appeal was dismissed in 1976.
Hope of ‘justice’ after 26 years
21 January 2000
A man convicted of killing a gangland leader 26 years ago has finally won a hearing into whether he suffered a miscarriage of justice.Paul Cleeland has been granted a hearing before the Criminal Cases Review Commission, in what has become one of the longest alleged “miscarriage of justice” cases in English legal history.
Cleeland, a 58-year-old cab driver, has been fighting to prove his innocence since 1973, when he was jailed for life for killing gangster Terry Clarke with a shotgun.
The commission, set up in 1997 after a series of high-profile miscarriages of justice, refused in October 1998 to refer the case back to the Court of Appeal.
But at the High Court in London on Friday, following a judicial review of its decision, it formally agreed to its refusal being quashed, and to hold such a hearing. No reasons were given, but Alison Foster, appearing for the commission, told two judges Cleeland was now being told: “Have a new hearing – let’s start again.”
Cleeland, released in September 1998 after serving 25 years of his life sentence, said outside the court: “After an investigation lasting two-and-a-half years they have walked into court and said they were wrong. What can you say? They are always on about public money but they cannot even get their act together.”
Cleeland has consistently argued he was the victim of a “cover-up”, and says evidence that the shotgun said to be the murder weapon was faulty was kept from the jury.
Clarke was blasted twice with a shotgun as he got out of his car after returning from a Hertfordshire bar on Guy Fawkes night in 1972.Within three hours detectives called on Cleeland, a friend of Clarke’s, at his Stevenage home. He was charged with murder, but the jury at his first trial in April 1973 were unable to reach a verdict.
A retrial followed later that year, and Cleeland was convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment.His appeal to the Court of Appeal was dismissed in 1976.Cleeland represented himself at both his trial and retrial, and has largely continued to fight a lone battle – often “sacking” his lawyers during appeals and judicial review challenges. A central part of the prosecution case against Cleeland at both trials was that a shotgun found close to the murder scene was the murder weapon.
At the trial, prosecutors relied on evidence from Scotland Yard firearms expert John McCafferty that the weapon was “in good working order”.But Cleeland says neither he nor the jury was ever shown vital evidence that the gun was defective.
Four days after the murder, detectives had taken the gun to Hemel Hempstead gunsmith Kenneth Duglaw, who said both its hammers must be cocked ready to be released when the trigger was pulled.On the alleged murder weapon, the right-hand hammer could not be cocked properly, Cleeland has argued.
Murder conviction called into question
8 August 2000
Evidence has emerged which could help clear a man convicted of murder 27 years ago.By legal affairs correspondent Jane PeelThe BBC learnt that the body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice is studying a report which casts doubt on key prosecution evidence at the trial of Paul Cleeland.Cleeland, now 58, spent 26 years in prison for the murder of his friend, gangland leader, Terry Clarke. He was released two years ago and has always protested his innocence.
A key prosecution witness at his trial was a former police officer who gave evidence about the shotgun said to have been the murder weapon. The officer said scientific tests which linked the gun to Paul Cleeland’s clothing had been carried out. But a new investigation by a leading firearms expert, Jonathan Spencer, casts doubt on the witness’s testimony. In a report seen by the BBC, Mr Spencer describes some of the witnesses’ conclusions as “nonsense”.
He says the test to determine from what distance the shots were fired was insufficient. And crucially, there are no laboratory notes to back up some of the claims the witness made at trial. The new investigation was carried out for the Criminal Cases Review Commission, the body which investigates possible miscarriages of justice.Paul Cleeland says the main plank of evidence against him has now been discredited. He hopes the commission will refer his case to the Court of Appeal.
“I will prove at the end that this was nothing to do with me, the murder of Terence Clarke” says Mr Cleeland.”I was just as much a victim as he was, in a lot of ways, more of a victim than he was. He’s been dead and out of it, I’ve had to live in top security prisons, cat a double a-d, totally abused.”Mr Cleeland will meet commission members who are reviewing his case soon.